Purchasing a racket for its strings and head size isn’t the only way to go. The grip type and style is equally important. There are two types of grips: main grips and overgrips.
Main grips are the standard grip that comes on the racket at the time of purchasing. This grip is important because it absorbs most of the vibrations formed when the racket makes contact with a tennis ball. They are also the main determining factor in comfort level of your racket.
Overgrip is the secondary grip and is simply a padded, soft tape that wraps around the handle. Overgrip must always be used in conjunction with a main grip, rather than as a replacement, in order to avoid discomfort and possible injury. Overgrips come in different levels of “tackiness.” The “tack” of an overgrip refers to the level of stickiness, so an overgrip with a lot of tack will adhere to your hand while one without is liable to slip. However, “tack” isn’t normally listed while purchasing, so be sure to ask a friend or try out a few different types to figure out the best overgrip for you.
Price in overgrip is a consideration. Low-quality (and, unfortunately, low-cost) overgrip won’t last more than four matches. High-quality overgrips can last several weeks. You can buy some overgrip types in bulk (packs of 15 or 30), but they are usually sold in packs of three.
Racquet grip size is determined by the circumference of the main grip plus any added width from the overgrip. Grips are measured in 1/8 inch increments, with standard sizes varying from 4 inches to 4 ¾ inches. You can measure your own grip by taking the circumference of the handle about 2-3 inches above the butt cap.
European grip sizes start at 0 (4 inches) and then move to L1 (4 1/8 inches) ending at L6 (4 ¾ inches). Overgrip generally adds 1/16 inch to 1/8 of an inch to this initial sizing.
Smaller grips are not always better. Many players choose smaller grips because they have greater control of the racket. However, smaller grips force players to squeeze the racket tighter, which can be strenuous on their hands and forearms.
The standard practice is to choose the largest grip that you can comfortably control. This will allow for healthy playing and gripping habits to develop. Choosing the wrong size grip contributes to tennis elbow. One way to measure your personal grip size is by holding the racket and using your other hand to measure the space between your thumb and fingers while holding the racket. There should be just enough room for your index finger to fit comfortably between the space – no more and no less.
It is easier to add width to a racket’s grip by using overgrip than it is to shrink a grip. In fact, most racket manufacturers are no longer including grip reduction options as a part of their racket functions. So buying on the smaller side and adjusting later is the way to go if you’re still unsure.